On September 9th, 2021, the President of the United States implemented a vaccine mandate affecting up to 100 million Americans hailing from both the healthcare and private-sector realms, in addition to federal contractors. Before the President made the order, vaccine mandates were on the rise, as evidenced by guidelines in place by airliners, nursing homes, restaurants, gyms, local governments, and the military. Understandably so, this has caused significant distress for the unvaccinated portion of the population, not to mention the already existent social pressure and retribution these persons have already experienced. When the President gets behind the nation’s most important podium, donned with the resolute seal of the highest office of the land, and states that “…our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal [to be vaccinated] has cost all of us”, it only confirms for many that if they do not fall in line with the loud and forceful majority, then there is going to be a heavy price to pay – literally.
I do not doubt that our nation and our world is in the midst of a terrible pandemic which has taken countless lives. This is nothing short of a tragedy, and I acknowledge the loss, grief, and pain. As citizens who collectively live together in community, we derelict our duty to our brethren to be ignorant, complacent, and cavalier when it comes to mitigating this disease. That being said, one does not need to be vaccinated to show solidarity with their neighbor. Someone can be responsible without being coerced or manipulated into making a bodily decision that offends their deeply-held convictions. The decision to be vaccinated is a personal one, and to make an ultimatum for someone by mandating a vaccine is morally and ethically wrong in every sense of the term.
As a nation, are we growing in unity by empowering people to make up their minds for themselves, or are we insinuating one way or the highway? As a nation, are we moving people to act using compassion and care, or are we using fear as a persuasive force? As a nation, are we seeking to understand and converse with others with whom we do not agree, or are we making it easier to castigate others with cheap, unthoughtful one-liners, degrading each other on social media? As a nation, do we truly value intellectual maturity and thoughtful inquiry, or is it no longer appropriate to respectfully question what leaders and professionals say?
You see, the deeper and more penetrating problem is the lost art of maturity and respect. It is not a stretch to assert that our society is more reminiscent of kindergarten sandbox bickering than anything else, as saddening as it is. While there is no doubt in my mind many people receive the COVID-19 vaccine out of genuine concern for their health and others, I am aware that there are also others who get vaccinated for fear of repercussions if they do not.
This is no way to promote medicine and the social well-being of our country.
Anybody that tells you to do something for your health out of a supposed concern and then makes you feel guilty because you made a different conclusion is not being honest with you. In a similar fashion, it appears that getting vaccinated is the only publicly approved decision a person can make. Certainly, leadership hailing from the highest parts of the government communicate it as so. Could this be, because they care about us so much? Honestly, I have my reservations.
In no way do I seek to discredit the government or our leadership. I do not seek to sow discontent or disrespect higher authority. I do not seek to make people live in a spirit of suspicion. What I am merely pointing out is that those who claim to have our wellness at heart seem to only care about our wellness on their terms. If someone conscientiously arrives at a decision about their own health that does not align with the universally-accepted remedy, then people are made to feel that they themselves are deficient. This leaves one wondering about the genuineness of people’s supposed concerns.
That is not fair.
Forcing people to do something against their will only hardens resistance and breeds rampant discontent and distrust. Does our nation need any more of this right now?
A better strategy would be to highlight the benefits of vaccination in schools and workplaces and foster communication that allows everybody to be heard. Then, those who seek a vaccine can get one. Those who do not seek a vaccine do not have to get one and they are not made to feel less-than because of their decision. While these folks may have to take extra preemptive health measures at times, this is the give and take of a responsible citizenry.
It is apparent however, that at the core our society does not trust people to make reasonable decisions for themselves.
The sad reality of our situation is that many will now have to decide between getting vaccinated or getting fired. I could not imagine being in that predicament, especially if I had a family to provide for. A company pours money into training you only to show the door over a vaccine.
As a result, companies will lose extraordinary, diligent, and dedicated workers because of vaccine mandates. It is the company’s loss. Yes, there are medical and religious exemptions, and this is good, but there are no protections for those who truly do not feel comfortable taking the vaccine itself. When was the last time manipulative coercion was so heavily employed against a population by the population itself?
The last thing the reader should consider is this: how are we doing as a nation in terms of our mental health? 43% of adults report that the pandemic has caused a “serious” impact on their mental health. 17% report increased consumption of alcohol and drugs, a 14% increase since last year. About 49% of parents report having sought help for their child from a mental health professional since the start of COVID-19. There are a lot of narratives floating around, but how often is this discussed? Not much. Our conversation needs to expand beyond just vaccines.
To conclude, I believe that mandating vaccines does more harm than good. It is an intrusive overstep that creates an atmosphere unconducive towards fostering a holistic vision of health, in all of its forms. What our nation needs more than anything else is a renewed focus on breeding trust, respect, and authentic concern for one another. What we don’t need is superficial concern used as a front for perpetuating fear.
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The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not proport to reflect the opinions or views of the Gordon Review, editorial staff, or its members.